Subject: High Altitude

This concept and the series of works associated to it follow my works on public places. Those were exploring the impact of public places on people and vice versa.
I started focusing on landscapes in 2008 because the backgrounds of my public places paintings reminded me of them. Especially mountains proofed to be an interesting subject.

The development of paintings of high mountains and especially of the Alps happened in parallel to the valorization of them. I recognized that we are currently witnessing the development of the highest mountains on earth. As a result, I focused my work on them and especially on Mount Everest.


This new concept is summing up the investigations and works I made since. It describes what is happening at 8.000ers and what is likely to happen from an artist’s point of view. I prepared for this by climbing a higher mountain: Mount Elbrus in Russia – the highest mountain of Europe with 5642 meters. Also I ran a couple of marathons and I have 600 skydives.

Table of Contents



Future scenarios

Load the complete concept here!

What happened before

Mountain paintings

Mountains and especially the high mountains such as the Alpes were unknown to our predecessors. Mountains have been equally terrible and hostile like desserts throughout the 17th century.

People that need to pass them such as the Romans, Hannibal or even Henry the IVth on its walk of penance to Canossa in 1077 made first contacts.

Leonardo da Vinci created noteworthy drawings and paintings starting in 13th century. 500 years later, towards the end of 18th century, lifelike paintings were created. Caspar Wolf is one of the most important painters of mountains this time. He used sketches to paint his drawings in his studio and finished them on site.  More and more sketches and paintings were made: Goethe made sketches, Joseph Anton Koch painted the “Schmadribachfall” and Caspar David Friedrich worked on the subject. Classical BGB structure dominated the paintings. The foreground was brown, hills and forests were green and the sky blue. In addition the paintings focused on some person in the foreground

The mountain gets the main motif only with Theodore Rousseau or William Turner. With them also light and wind got important. Turner was able to build enormous tension with his paintings. But even modern works such as Warhols or Richters prints of the Alpes lack the remoteness, the uncompromising absoluteness and the finality of High Altitude.

The French painter Claude Joseph Vernet recognized on a journey to Mont Blanc, that he could not transfer the giant motif in his painting.

Mountain concepts

During my studies I learned that mountaineers have spurred the development of the Alps – they are called alpinists since. English alpinists looking for accommodation and climbing help increasingly spend money, which finally let to the mass tourism of today. This generated a wealth that other nations with even more interesting mountains are interested in.

To travel to the Alps got “on vogue” in England in the twenties of 19th century. Simple hostels, bad food and porters were the only things available. This changed when the railway network was extended. And when Albert Smith started his show on Mont Blanc in London. He was the first to report on his adventures. Starting in 1852 he presented them for six years in a row. Tourism and imaginary changed the perception of mountains.

Current discussion raised the attention of professional artists. Hans Schabus work for the Venice Biennale 2005 elaborated on Austrian identity. Hamish Fultons hiking lead him in 2009 also to the summit of Mount Everest. Also snow had been brought down from a mountain and exhibited.

But the people on the mountains, their stories and feelings comprise the actual tension in any conceptual work on this subject. Today – as well as 300 years ago. Nature is only getting mysterious and scary as long as we imagine us experiencing it.

This post is also available in: German

Author: Jürgen H. Stäudtner

I studied Painting, Photography and Conceptual Art at FAdbK Essen, Germany. Mostly I work in series of paintings as you can see on the Home page.

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